On the radio with Terry Mortenson, Creation “Museum” historian of science and part-time demonologist

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By Dan Phelps ([Enable javascript to see this email address.])

This is a guest contribution by Dan Phelps, who participated in a sort of warm-up debate before the infamous Nye–Ham debate. Mr. Phelps’s contribution was inspired in part by a challenge for a formal debate by his interlocutor, Terry Mortenson, who, astonishingly, admitted that he has “no credibility in the scientific community and little even within Christian circles.” Mr. Phelps evidently looked further into Dr. Mortenson’s background and discovered at least some of the reasons that Dr. Mortenson lacks credibility, period.

On January 30, I was on WEKU-FM, Eastern Kentucky University’s NPR station, for an episode of the weekly show “Eastern Standard” to discuss the topic Is Teaching Creationism Harmful to Children and Society?.

The Host was John Hingsbergen. I was paired with Terry Mortenson of Answers in Genesis and the Creation “Museum.” Dr. Mortenson has a doctorate in the history of geology from Coventry University in England and discusses his academic qualifications here. Dr. Mortenson has a legitimate degree, but, as we shall see, he has bizarre conspiracy theories on the origin of modern geology that put him far, far out of the mainstream.

Conspiracy theories. Oddly, but not unexpectedly, Dr. Mortenson put forth some unusual arguments during the show. He insultingly compared scientists’ “presuppositions” to a racist police officer1 and defended several conspiracy theories concerning the history of science in particular and the scientific community in general. I have transcribed several portions of the show for readers of The Panda’s Thumb:

Terry Mortenson: What a person’s presuppositions are before he ever looks at the evidence will affect what he sees and how he interprets what he sees. A police officer who is a racist and has an agenda against the black community will try to look at the evidence and he will be able to build a case that gets this black guy convicted and sent to prison because of his presuppositions and his manipulation of the data, consciously or unconsciously.

Daniel Phelps: So scientists are in a conspiracy then? Is that what you are claiming? That science is a conspiracy?

TM: Not a conspiracy but my experience is in the origin of the old earth thinking and James Hutton and Charles Lyell – they were deists or atheists …

DP: That’s not true, especially of Charles Lyell. He was actually a devout Christian. That’s nonsense.

TM: No, he wasn’t, you don’t know. No historian of science would agree with you.

DP: You are basically purporting a conspiracy theory for the origin of science.

TM: No, I have read Charles Lyell’s writings on this issue, and no historian of science would agree with you in that statement.2

A little later in the show:

TM: No evolutionary geologist would go into the Grand Canyon and even ask the question, “Could this be the result of a global flood?” His presuppositions rule that out before he ever looks at the evidence. A creation scientist goes in, he’s assuming, because he has eyewitness testimony of the Creator, there was a global flood – I should see evidence of that [flood]. And creation scientists like Dr. [Andrew] Snelling, like Steve Austin have made numerous trips, geological research trips approved by the National Park Service to research geological evidence in the Grand Canyon, and they see abundant evidence of a global flood.

DP: Basically you’re telling quite a bit of non-truths about what science actually does. I know for a fact that people that are employed by the Creation Museum have to sign an oath of Biblical literalism before they’re even employed. So that right there means that your presuppositions are very limited from the very moment you signed on to work for Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum.

Science itself is done in scientific journals and at scientific meetings. Anybody can show that they are able to do scientific research, and that’s how they’re able to obtain their master’s degrees and PhD’s. You write a thesis or a dissertation showing that you’re capable of doing such. Creationists, however, have not been publishing things in the scientific literature that claim that the earth is 6000 years old, that Noah’s Flood was real, that there were dinosaurs on the Ark, and [instead] they are trying to do, like, an end run around the scientific process[, which] involves peer review and publication in the scientific literature, to get their ideas taught in the schools.

TM: That’s simply false, that is simply false.

DP: All right, what creation scientists at the Creation Museum have published things in journals like Nature, Science …

TM: If you go on the Internet you can find that Andrew Snelling published all kinds of literature in the secular …

DP: That is true, he published things in the literature, but they did not say that the earth is 6000 years old, that …

TM: That’s because the literature is dominated by evolutionists who won’t …

DP: So there is another conspiracy theory here saying that the scientific community is conspiring to keep Andrew Snelling from publishing his evidence that the earth is 6000 years old?

TM: Well there’s plenty of evidence that anybody who criticizes evolution is going to pay a price for it.

DP: OK, show us the rejection letters from the journals that they submitted these papers to.

TM: Well, I can’t show you, but I know people have submitted [papers], and their papers were not accepted.

John Hingsbergen: We want to get some of our …

TM: Dr. Steve Austin presented his research to the National Park Service on the Grand Canyon …

DP: Well, that’s not a scientific ven …

TM: … geologists about his research on the nautiloid fossils, and it was very much appreciated. Creation scientists have presented poster sessions at the national geology meetings.

DP: Anybody can do that. That is not necessarily peer reviewed. I’ve done that and it is not peer reviewed.

TM: If you attack their degrees and say they’re incompetent, then you’re gonna attack all of the evolutionist professors who supervised their PhD research and granted the degree.

DP: Well, the degree only means they were capable of scientific research, not that they are doing [scientific research now].

TM: They should never granted the degree if they are so incompetent. And so they can write a thesis and then they can’t write an article afterward? The month after they get the PhD?

Debate challenge. In the very last moments of the show, Dr. Mortenson challenged me, in a style reminiscent of professional wrestling banter, to debate him. Here is the transcript:

TM: I would like to ask Mr. Phelps: I will debate you anywhere you want to debate, just on the scientific evidence, and if I am a total ignoramus and don’t understand any of it, you should be able to destroy my credibility easily before the audience. So I would be happy to debate you.

DP: I’ll tell you what, Mr. Mortenson, or [rather] Dr. Mortenson, you can write a paper in a scientific journal arguing that dinosaurs were fire-breathing dragons …

TM: … It wouldn’t be published …

DP: … on Noah’s Ark and I would be glad to review it.

HOST: Folks, we’re out of time.

In a sense, I accepted Dr. Mortenson’s debate challenge. He challenged me to debate anywhere. I advised him to publish a paper in a peer reviewed journal supporting one of the central claims of creationist paleontology and stated that I would be glad to write a reply. Scientific “debate” takes place in peer reviewed journals, not at formal debates in front of an audience of nonscientists (many of whom are unfamiliar with both the scientific method and the actual findings of science).

Demonology. After the radio show, I discovered several “interesting” things about Dr. Mortenson and his approach to the history of science. On December 26, 2012, he published a most enlightening article, Are Demons Active Today? on the Answers in Genesis webpage. In this article, Dr. Mortenson attributes many things to the action of demons including aspects of animist, Hindu, and Buddhist culture. He thinks Western culture is not immune to demonic influence, mentioning satanic rock groups and the origin of the Mormon Church. He states:

Evidently, demons rarely show themselves in the same way in the “enlightened” Western world. But it may also be that the West’s anti-supernatural mentality keeps us from recognizing their activity. Indeed, the West’s increasing opposition to belief in the supernatural is an even stronger indication of demonic deception.

Apparently, to Dr. Mortenson at least, lack of belief in a conspiracy by most people is even more evidence that the conspiracy exists.

More relevant to the history of science is Dr. Mortenson’s claim that: “The widespread acceptance of evolution (including millions of years and the big bang) is strong evidence of the continuing work of Satan and demons.” Perhaps Dr. Mortenson would care to defend his bizarre demonology claims in one of the numerous journals on the history of science or geology? I’m sure he will claim a demonic conspiracy will keep his “research” from being published.

Imagine my surprise when several weeks passed, and Dr. Mortenson wrote two posts, here and here, at the AIG website, repeating and expanding on what he said in the radio show and accusing me of being afraid to debate him. In his second post, Dr. Mortenson states:

At the end of the January 30 radio interview, I challenged Mr. Phelps to a public debate about the scientific evidence related to origins and to do it at the location of his choosing. He refused, instead hiding behind the false demand that I publish my objections to evolution in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, and behind the red herring excuse that he would be giving credibility to a creationist to debate me.

But I submit that the real reason he refused is because he can’t defend his position in the free-marketplace of ideas. I only had biology and chemistry in high school and one physics course in college. I have no credibility in the scientific community and little even within Christian circles. With his BS and MS degrees in geology, winning a debate with me should be very easy. If evolution was really true and all the scientific evidence confirmed it, a debate with me would be a great way for Mr. Phelps to demolish any credibility I have within the Christian community and to make creationists look like the ignorant, gullible fools that he and other evolutionists think we are. Too bad that he is unwilling to defend his views in a formal public debate.

In other words, Dr. Mortenson has no academic qualifications or credibility to debate science, but thinks that others should be obligated to participate in a formal debate with him. As is typical of the “researchers and scientists” at the Creation “Museum,” Dr. Mortenson wants to claim his ideas are credible by having formal debates with scientists. If he and his colleagues really want to be taken seriously, they should publish their creationist claims in the peer reviewed literature. However, Dr. Mortenson’s claims about science, depending on his intended audience, rest on conspiracy theories and weird ranting about demons. No wonder he has earned this listing at the Encyclopedia of American Loons.

Notes. 1. This is ironic considering this report on one of Dr. Mortenson’s talks at the Creation “Museum.”

2. Later in the show, Dr. Mortenson changed from arguing that Lyell was an atheist to simply claiming he wasn’t “a Bible-believing Christian.” Actually, Charles Lyell was a Unitarian. See Charles Darwin, Geologist by Sandra Herbert (2005). On page 187, after citing primary sources, Herbert states, “Thus, while Lyell was a modernizer by virtue of his campaign in the Principles of Geology against Mosaic geology and by virtue of his opposition to Anglican hegemony in such important areas of national life as education, he remained a religious man.” Interestingly, Dr. Mortenson refers to Lyell as a Unitarian in his later posts on the Answers in Genesis website, but apparently thinks that 19th Century Unitarians were not Christians, presumably because they were not Biblical literalists.

Of course what really matters is the evidence that Lyell and later geologists presented, not their religious beliefs.

86 Comments

TM: Well there’s plenty of evidence that anybody who criticizes evolution is going to pay a price for it.

And MDs who reject the bias that germs cause many diseases will pay a price for that.

Funny how incompetence tends to be costly.

Glen Davidson

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

TM: Well there’s plenty of evidence that anybody who criticizes evolution is going to pay a price for it.

And MDs who reject the bias that germs cause many diseases will pay a price for that.

Funny how incompetence tends to be costly.

Glen Davidson

The lack of acceptance by the medical community that diseases are caused by demonic possession is powerful evidence that demonic forces are at work!

“I have no credibility within the ‘mainstream’ of my faith. I have little to no credibility within the area of academia I wish to defrock. I am a person for whom the spiritual, and its power are self evident, like a truth. Dammit! Debate me.”

Nye did well, they’re still posting article by article, blistering refutations of his debate points at Answers.

robert van bakel said:

“I have no credibility within the ‘mainstream’ of my faith. I have little to no credibility within the area of academia I wish to defrock. I am a person for whom the spiritual, and its power are self evident, like a truth. Dammit! Debate me.”

Nye did well, they’re still posting article by article, blistering refutations of his debate points at Answers.

Well maybe we should be posting point by point refutations of all of the claims that Ham made. After all, Bill didn’t challenge him on any of them. Somebody should.

It might also be amusing to eviscerate the refutations at AIG. Unfortunately you would have to read them first.

From the debate:

TM: No evolutionary geologist would go into the Grand Canyon and even ask the question, “Could this be the result of a global flood?” His presuppositions rule that out before he ever looks at the evidence. A creation scientist goes in, he’s assuming, because he has eyewitness testimony of the Creator, there was a global flood – I should see evidence of that [flood]. And creation scientists like Dr. [Andrew] Snelling, like Steve Austin have made numerous trips, geological research trips approved by the National Park Service to research geological evidence in the Grand Canyon, and they see abundant evidence of a global flood.

DP: Basically you’re telling quite a bit of non-truths about what science actually does. I know for a fact that people that are employed by the Creation Museum have to sign an oath of Biblical literalism before they’re even employed. So that right there means that your presuppositions are very limited from the very moment you signed on to work for Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum.

Science itself is done in scientific journals and at scientific meetings. Anybody can show that they are able to do scientific research, and that’s how they’re able to obtain their master’s degrees and PhD’s. You write a thesis or a dissertation showing that you’re capable of doing such. Creationists, however, have not been publishing things in the scientific literature that claim that the earth is 6000 years old, that Noah’s Flood was real, that there were dinosaurs on the Ark, and [instead] they are trying to do, like, an end run around the scientific process[, which] involves peer review and publication in the scientific literature, to get their ideas taught in the schools.

I’m an “evolutionary geologist” according to Dr. Mortenson, and although my special area of expertise is glacial geology, he’s full of it here. A geologist who visits the Grand Canyon is convinced that it was carved by ordinary erosional processes by the Colorado by all sorts of evidence, the profiles of the canyon sides, the narrow course of the channel itself, the accordant tributaries.

On the other hand, when a geologist visits the Channeled Scablands of eastern Washington (caused by giant outburst floods, as a result of the catastrophic drainage of Glacial Lake Missoula), the anastomosing channels, the broad channel floors, crossing of divides, the ripple marks made of boulders, the misfit streams and the dry waterfalls all testify to a catastrophic flooding origin (albeit caused by uniformitarianist reasons).

Sorry Dr. Mortenson! We view the evidence first, then test it against potential causes to distinguish between ordinary fluvial and flood processes. You and your ilk are the ones who come to the rocks with presuppositions.

TM: No evolutionary geologist would go into the Grand Canyon and even ask the question, “Could this be the result of a global flood?” His presuppositions rule that out before he ever looks at the evidence.

I understand that it’s hard to keep up with creationist lies - that’s a good reason to ask them direct questions about evidence for their own version. But this is a really obvious flat lie. At no time has there ever been any scientific presupposition that rules out a global flood.

In fact, if anything, the original scientific “presupposition” was that a cultural bias that a global flood had occurred.

Science ruled out a global flood four thousand years ago ONLY by examining the evidence.

Technically, the evidence was not even examined quite perfectly objectively. It was examined with a bias toward the traditional idea that there HAD been a recent global flood. Even with this bias, though, scientists eventually saw that the evidence doesn’t fit that. Early scientists ONLY gave up on the idea of a flood AFTER extensive evaluation of the evidence.

A creation scientist goes in, he’s assuming, because he has eyewitness testimony of the Creator, there was a global flood – I should see evidence of that [flood]. And creation scientists like Dr. [Andrew] Snelling, like Steve Austin have made numerous trips, geological research trips approved by the National Park Service to research geological evidence in the Grand Canyon, and they see abundant evidence of a global flood.

This statement is a blunt admission that creationists totally oppose and reject the most basic principles of science.

So no natural evidence, none, nothing, could ever convince you that there was not a recent global flood. Whatever you see, it always means that there was a recent global flood. So you go to the Grand Canyon and “examine the evidence”. Why bother? It’s like looking at a broken clock. Nothing could ever change your mind. Whatever you see, whatever, you will always say “there was a global flood 4000 years ago”.

The only reason a creationist scientist goes to the Grand Canyon to study ‘flood geology’ is to say that they went to the Grand Canyon. It is a total waste of time and effort. You already know your conclusion before you get on the bus to Flagstaff. It doesn’t matter what you see. You could see the Grand Canyon. You could get there and find that aliens have built a giant theme park in what was once the Grand Canyon. Your bus could go through a dimensional vortex, you could spend the day at the court of Henry VIII in an alternate universe, and then somehow get back again. It wouldn’t matter. It would all “support a global flood” to you.

That is, of course, the absolute opposite of science.

Hey creationists -

I have no philosophical materialist presuppositions.

You say the theory of evolution is false, and your explanation is better. Well, I’m willing to be convinced. All I need is two things -

A) Some positive objective evidence for your version. NOT your interpretation of cherry picked parts of a contemporary edition of the “King James Version” translation of the Bible. That’s not objective evidence. NOT attacks on the evidence for evolution (in this step). That’s not positive evidence for your version.

1) Could any evidence convince you of the theory of evolution, and if so, what type of evidence is now lacking, that would convince you, if present?

2) The Supreme Court ruled against the direct teaching of Biblical Young Earth Creationism as science in public schools; however, if that ruling were overturned, which would you support more, teaching of ID, or direct teaching of Bible-based YEC?

3) Do you think it is important for opponents of the theory of evolution to fully understand the theory of evolution? If so, can you explain it, and if not, can you explain why not?

4) Who is the designer? How can we test your answer?

5) What did that designer do? How can we test your answer? 6) How did the designer do it? How can we test your answer?

7) When did the designer do it? How can we test your answer?

8) What is an example of something that was not designed by the designer?

Let’s make it Real Simple.

Here are three stones. They all happen to be tiny rough diamonds, of obviously poor quality and very similar appearance.

One was found in a kimberlite pipe in South Africa and formed by plutonic forces in the deep mantle. It’s ‘natural’.

One was made from uncrystallized carbon in a laboratory–a manmade diamond.

One was designed and created by God, atom by atom, to have precisely the shape, color, weight, flaws, and everything, exactly as he wanted. And he wanted it to look EXACTLY like a ‘natural’ stone – or maybe like a manmade one. And he succeeded.

Now, here are two ‘designed’ stones and one ‘natural’. Explain how to tell the ‘designed’ from the ‘undesigned’. How would your hero Paley do it?

9) Some parts of the Bible suggest that pi equals exactly three, and that the earth is flat and has four corners. Do you accept these as facts of reality, and if not, why do you deny the theory of evolution on the grounds of Biblical literacy, if it can be symbolic about other scientific issues? If you don’t claim Biblical literalism, simply state so when answering this question.

B) Okay, now that you’ve completed Part A, we’ll need to move on to Part B.

When you argue against someone else’s claims, it’s obviously only fair to fully acknowledge those claims, correctly, and to acknowledge the evidence supporting those claims, as a starting point. That’s why I’m so eager to get a handle on what the evidence is for your claims.

Now, for the next step in your effort to convince reasonable people, do a competent job of explaining the theory of evolution and the evidence in favor of it, and show how your version better explains the data. Here’s a piece of advice. Don’t use ANY material whatsoever from creationist sources. I’m already familiar with it, and none of it is fair or accurate. But all you need to do is go to scientific sources, get a handle on the theory of evolution, and the dozen or few major lines of convergent evidence that support it, and show how your claim better explains the data.

That’s all I ask. Simple, really.

TM: No evolutionary geologist would go into the Grand Canyon and even ask the question, “Could this be the result of a global flood?” His presuppositions rule that out before he ever looks at the evidence. A creation scientist goes in, he’s assuming, because he has eyewitness testimony of the Creator, there was a global flood – I should see evidence of that [flood]. And creation scientists like Dr. [Andrew] Snelling, like Steve Austin have made numerous trips, geological research trips approved by the National Park Service to research geological evidence in the Grand Canyon, and they see abundant evidence of a global flood.

Give us this evidence, don’t just assert it.

BTW, how do you find evidence of a “global flood” in just the Grand Canyon? It’s a stupid claim. You could find evidence for a global flood, if it happened, only with evidence from, well, representative regions across the globe (I realize that they claim this at times, too, but this was not the claim here). The extreme bias of creationists is evident because they find that a “global flood” was responsible for local effects, when local effects–if caused by a flood at all–only point to local causes by themselves.

Yes, if you insist that your presupposition is truth, you will no doubt cherry pick only what agrees with your presupposition–the opposite of the goals of real science. So if you believed that a global windstorm caused practically all of geology, you’ll find evidence that you’ll claim proves your global windstorm at the Grand Canyon. That’s what prejudice does.

Real scientists don’t go looking for evidence for a global windstorm or global flood causing the Grand Canyon because there has never been credible evidence for either one. They go looking for causes–and often find that floods were among the causes. If there were evidence that any one of these floods was in fact global, they’d eventually piece together such data. No one has ever done so, least of all the fake “scientists” (don’t care about their credentials, if they’re doing pseudoscience they’re fake scientists) at the creationist organizations.

Glen Davidson

TM: No evolutionary geologist would go into the Grand Canyon and even ask the question, “Could this be the result of a global flood?” His presuppositions rule that out before he ever looks at the evidence. A creation scientist goes in, he’s assuming, because he has eyewitness testimony of the Creator, there was a global flood – I should see evidence of that [flood]. And creation scientists like Dr. [Andrew] Snelling, like Steve Austin have made numerous trips, geological research trips approved by the National Park Service to research geological evidence in the Grand Canyon, and they see abundant evidence of a global flood.

Well, “evolutionary geologists” went into the Columbia River gorge in the 1800’s and soon realized that it was actually a giant flood channel, the result of a huge, unprecedented flood.

Which confused the hell out of them, since there was no obvious source for that much water.

Especially since the flooding appeared to be relatively recent.

Still, the evidence was incontrovertible, and the gorge was widely accepted to be a flood channel of mysterious, unexplained, origin from an unfathomable deluge because, well, that’s what the evidence said it was.

I’m going to go out a limb here, but I suspect that at least a few religiously observant geologists were probably thinking “Gee, maybe I have found Noah’s flood.”

It wasn’t for another 50 years that research in northern Utah and southern Idaho would point to the existence of Lake Missoula, a prehistoric lake the size of lake Michigan, formed by the ice-age glaciers, which collapsed with the retreat of those glaciers and scoured the Columbia Basin.

Because that’s what the evidence said it was.

So it’s not that the “preconceived notions” of secular scientists can’t allow them to consider the possibility of a biblical, event; it’s that their “preconceived notions” require said event to play by the same rules of evidence as everything else, which, somehow, they never quite do.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

Gordon Glover (himself an ex-YEC) produced a series of videos, including this particular video about how even early Christian geologists with Christian prior commitments eventually abandoned the idea a world Flood nearly two centuries ago when the scientific evidence became too overwhelming.

Softly spoken Mortenson is a liar about science par excellence: http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/b[…]-on-origins/

To give credit where credit is due, the geologist who fist described the Channeled Scablands in eastern Washington was J. Harlan Bretz, who mapped them out and described evidence for a catastrophic flood in the 1930’s - prior to air photos of the area He had the misfortune to propose a flood rigt after the Scopes Monkey Trial, and got a less-than-enthusiastic reception as a resilt. he also failed to find a source for the flood, and presumed it was subglacial water under the ice cap. A USGS geologist privately concluded that Glacial Lake Missoula was the source of the flood, but couldn’t get that through the internal review process.

In the face of substantial opposition to his ideas, Bretz moved on and made major contributions to the geology of caves and karst, leaving his Scablands publications to speak for themselves.

In the late 1950’s, Bretz returned to the Channeled Scablands, this time with good maps and air photos, and came up with a much more convincing argument. In 1965, when the International Quaternary Association toured the Northern Rockies, the assembled glacial geologists and geomorphologists called a very elderly Bretz and proclaimed themselves catastrophists in his model.

Since that time, the story has been refined, and we now know that there were thirty to forty catastrophic floods, with timing determined by the rate of filling of Glacial Lake Missoula and the height of the ice dam near Coeur d’Alene Idaho. Others have used the morphology of the Channeled Scablands to argue for free water in the past on the Moon.

The point of this story is to show that long after geologists had rejected evidence for a global, universal Flood, because there was no evidence for one, other geologists were able to reintroduce floods when the field evidence supported a flood, to propose floods vastly larger than had been observed within the time frame that geologists had studied, and, when the evidence supported it, had found a uniformitarian explanation for the source of the numerous floods that occurred.

All of which points out that true scientists have been capable of following the evidence and not any presuppositions that restricted us to only gradualistic, fluvial erosion. We “evolutionary geologists” are the ones willing to look at the evidence, and conclude that drastically different origins and processes are responsible for the Grand Canyon (ordinary fluvial erosion) and catastrophic flooding (the Channeled Scablands). If only the flood geologists were as intellectually honest, and willing to let the rocks tell us what happened.

As an aside, what you are willing to believe depends on your local circumstances. Bretz encountered a lot of resistance to the ideas of catastrophic floods in the United States, partly due to the time he proposed the idea, and partly because it was a flood. In the early 1980’s, when I went to Antarctica as part of my Ph. D. research, I went to the Argentine sector of Antarctica, and as “payment” for logistical support, I had to give a lecture, in Spanish, to the assembled base personnel, helicopter pilots and aviation support people. The group I worked with had seen similar outburst floods in the Pioneer Montains in central Idaho, and I described them. The Argentines responded “Si! Como Lago Argentino!” A glacier in southern Patagonia advances into Lago Agentino, blocks off a side arm of the lake, and the water level rises in that separate arm. Every decade or so, the water level fises high enough to burst out under the glacier and cause a flood downvalley from the lake. It’s the same mechanism as in the Channeled Scablands floods, but two or three orders of magnitude smaller. However, non-geologists in Argentina can easily understand what Bretz found because they all know of the smaller-scale model in their own country.

ashleyhr said:

Softly spoken Mortenson is a liar about science par excellence: http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/b[…]-on-origins/

This was amazing to me.

Not because of the creationist slognans.

Because of the data that some Pentecostals are beginning to accept evolution. For those who have never known any Pentecostals, one in six accepting evolution is remarkable.

As I’ve said many times, ID/creationism is now a political/social issue. People who care about religion, primarily, are not obliged to accept it.

Relative to Charles Lyell, it should be noted that he was somewhat dubious of his friend Darwin’s idea of natural selection at first.

harold said:

ashleyhr said:

Softly spoken Mortenson is a liar about science par excellence: http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/b[…]-on-origins/

This was amazing to me.

Not because of the creationist slognans.

Because of the data that some Pentecostals are beginning to accept evolution. For those who have never known any Pentecostals, one in six accepting evolution is remarkable.

As I’ve said many times, ID/creationism is now a political/social issue. People who care about religion, primarily, are not obliged to accept it.

Robert T. Bakker is a Pentecostal preacher.

DS said:

robert van bakel said:

“I have no credibility within the ‘mainstream’ of my faith. I have little to no credibility within the area of academia I wish to defrock. I am a person for whom the spiritual, and its power are self evident, like a truth. Dammit! Debate me.”

Nye did well, they’re still posting article by article, blistering refutations of his debate points at Answers.

Well maybe we should be posting point by point refutations of all of the claims that Ham made. After all, Bill didn’t challenge him on any of them. Somebody should.

It might also be amusing to eviscerate the refutations at AIG. Unfortunately you would have to read them first.

Well, I’d at least have the advantage of not needing to read them first.

I wish I had the time and energy to systematically and catastrophically refute every one of their articles. Anyone want to raise money so I can quit my job and fight stupid full-time?

david.starling.macmillan said:

DS said:

robert van bakel said:

“I have no credibility within the ‘mainstream’ of my faith. I have little to no credibility within the area of academia I wish to defrock. I am a person for whom the spiritual, and its power are self evident, like a truth. Dammit! Debate me.”

Nye did well, they’re still posting article by article, blistering refutations of his debate points at Answers.

Well maybe we should be posting point by point refutations of all of the claims that Ham made. After all, Bill didn’t challenge him on any of them. Somebody should.

It might also be amusing to eviscerate the refutations at AIG. Unfortunately you would have to read them first.

Well, I’d at least have the advantage of not needing to read them first.

I wish I had the time and energy to systematically and catastrophically refute every one of their articles. Anyone want to raise money so I can quit my job and fight stupid full-time?

You might want to see if NCSE is hiring. In the meantime, we appreciate your perspective and your efforts to support science here.

harold said:

ashleyhr said:

Softly spoken Mortenson is a liar about science par excellence: http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/b[…]-on-origins/

This was amazing to me.

Not because of the creationist slognans.

Because of the data that some Pentecostals are beginning to accept evolution. For those who have never known any Pentecostals, one in six accepting evolution is remarkable.

As I’ve said many times, ID/creationism is now a political/social issue. People who care about religion, primarily, are not obliged to accept it.

A fascinating quote from the referenced post (italics in the original):

But here we encounter problems. It is not the “findings of science” that seem to contradict “traditional interpretations” of Genesis 1–11. Science has not found anything that contradicts the straightforward, literal understanding of Genesis, and it is remarkable that a Christian chemist and biologist would say that science has. Science has not found a living cell spontaneously evolving into existence by chance from non-living matter, as evolutionists claim has happened 3.5 billion years ago. Science has not found transitional forms between different kinds of plants and animals, either living or in the fossil record, to support evolutionist claims that all life is descended from a common ancestor—the first living cell. And science has not found millions of years of time in the rocks or a gas cloud collapsing to form a star. None of those things has ever been observed by any scientist, so they are not findings of science.

I suppose that this doesn’t count.

“This is not “evidence”. “Evidence” is what agrees with my YEC assumptions.”

david.starling.macmillan said:

DS said:

robert van bakel said:

“I have no credibility within the ‘mainstream’ of my faith. I have little to no credibility within the area of academia I wish to defrock. I am a person for whom the spiritual, and its power are self evident, like a truth. Dammit! Debate me.”

Nye did well, they’re still posting article by article, blistering refutations of his debate points at Answers.

Well maybe we should be posting point by point refutations of all of the claims that Ham made. After all, Bill didn’t challenge him on any of them. Somebody should.

It might also be amusing to eviscerate the refutations at AIG. Unfortunately you would have to read them first.

Well, I’d at least have the advantage of not needing to read them first.

I wish I had the time and energy to systematically and catastrophically refute every one of their articles. Anyone want to raise money so I can quit my job and fight stupid full-time?

Having not heard the debate, I’d still be surprised if there was much innovation going on. How many talking points haven’t been refuted by the Index to Creationist Claims already?

Whining about Bill Nye the debate-winning Guy (any mistake about either the Bible or YEC dogma by an opponent of the latter is ALWAYS dirty deliberate strawman behaviour and NEVER a simple error - that’s the gist of the argument here and it echoes how Ham behaves online): http://www.answersingenesis.org/art[…]uy-noahs-ark “First, where does the Bible ever state that just eight people built the Ark? Only e ight people were on the Ark and survived the Flood, but this doesn’t mean these were the only people involved in building the structure. Actually, the Bible only mentions Noah as building the Ark (Genesis 6:22; Hebrews 11:7)”. You have answered your own silly question Mr Chaffey. There was NO ‘strawman’ from Nye here - with respect to the BIBLE. However, if the position of AiG is BEYOND what the Bible SAYS, that would suggest that AiG are FRAUDS and in error doctrinally - like all those other Christians they slate.

A pathetic article.

Scott YECs have PRESUPPOSITIONS as well as assumptions. They pretend that real scientists follow the same ‘methodogology’ as them.

Methodology even.

Methodologetics.

fnxtr said:

Methodologetics.

Is that what you get when you cross Methodism with a Dianetics?

ashleyhr said:

Scott YECs have PRESUPPOSITIONS as well as assumptions. They pretend that real scientists follow the same ‘methodogology’ as them.

Method ‘o golly-gee!

Yep, that’s YEC all right. All argument from personal incredulity.

Mike Elzinga said:

fnxtr said:

Methodologetics.

Is that what you get when you cross Methodism with a Dianetics?

Methodological Apologetics.

ashleyhr said:

Scott YECs have PRESUPPOSITIONS as well as assumptions. They pretend that real scientists follow the same ‘methodogology’ as them.

They PROJECT that real scientists do what they do. They can’t conceive of anything else.

Let me improve something I said earlier.

So no natural evidence, none, nothing, could ever convince you that there was not a recent global flood. Whatever you see, it always means that there was a recent global flood. So you go to the Grand Canyon and “examine the evidence”. Why bother? It’s like looking at a broken clock. Nothing could ever change your mind. Whatever you see, whatever, you will always say “there was a global flood 4000 years ago”.

Actually, of course, the reason they “study” the Grand Canyon is because it is a well known source of evidence against a 6000 year old earth.

That torments them.

They go there trying to find fault with the obvious evidence against their presupposition.

They never offer positive evidence. Their positive evidence is their interpretation of the Bible. What they will do is obsessively try to find fault with the real evidence.

ashleyhr said:Chaffey: “First, where does the Bible ever state that just eight people built the Ark? Only eight people were on the Ark and survived the Flood, but this doesn’t mean these were the only people involved in building the structure.”

True.

But that doesn’t make it any better.

In fact, to me, this is the most pernicious part of the Noah myth, total downright evil in it’s execution.

I’m with you that Noah and his 3 boys could have not possibly have built their boat on their own, no matter how direct their orders from God.

After all, think of all the depictions you’ve ever seen, they’re just full of enormous timbers and planks.

That means that sizable trees had to be cut down and moved great distances, something that 4 men just can’t pull off by themselves (if they had draft animals, then a large part of their day went to simply caring for the animals. Feeding a team of, say, 4 oxen was probably a full time job).

No, Team Noah had help.

Lots of help.

A boat of 150 cubits displaces about 6000 tons. That’s a lot of wood and pitch and rope for early iron-age people to gather in an era when a rich man might have a hammer and an axe.

When you consider the felling and dressing of timber, the transportation of materials, and the infrastructure necessary to feed and coordinate all these men their number ran into the hundreds.

And Noah had to pay these men. The culture was one of small scale subsistence farming, days spent hammering together a boat were days spent away from working the family plot, you could only do that in a barter economy if you were generating some tangible value which could later be used to feed your family.

Noah was, by whatever means, a wealthy man to pull off this kind of build (after all, look how much trouble Ark park is having 4000 years later - it’s still impossible without enough money).

Further, in the world of 4000 years ago, the concept of wealth separate from political power did not exist. If Noah commanded resources of this scale, he was, at the very least, some kind of regional prince.

And if Noah was, as the the good book says “a true and just man” then as a regional leader you would expect him to insist that those under his rule followed the faith. So in an era of great depravity, Noah Town was probably quite clean and people there even probably went to temple (altar?) on some kind of regular basis.

Such was the way of the times. The prince adopted a faith, the people followed, and if the prince told his people to build something big, they obeyed.

Think of the Pharaohs and their pyramids. Like that, only a smaller, more provincial model.

So Noah, the regional sovereign has his subjects build a boat.

It takes a long time for iron-age carpenters to build a giant raft, so Family Noah works closely with all these townspeople for years.

Probably generations.

Some of them would, of necessity, be managers and the like, close confidants of the Noahs. Probably good and just men (after all, would you hire an evil, depraved, mid-level manager for your company?).

Good men, witt good families. Children. Babies.

And yet, after all this time with these people, their friends, neighbors, relatives, and clergy, when the raindrops start to fall, what does Team Noah do?

Do they pull a “Schindler’s List” and furiously pull out all the stops to try to save everyone they can?

No.

Noah closes up the Big Door and sails away.

Noah takes two of every kind of snake, and beetle and salamander, but he leaves all his people - his neighbors, his friends, his relatives, his subjects - to drown.

That to me, is the never-spoken underbelly of the Noah tale.

Oskar Schindler was a “good and just man” who saved people from a great disaster. Noah was just a smug little rich kid with a boat.

stevaroni said:

Noah was just a smug little old rich kid bastard with a boat.

And a mean drunk.

I actually emailed Mortenson about his side of this story. Sadly, he asked me to keep his response confidential. It was a disappointing response anyway.

I actually emailed Mortenson about his side of this story. Sadly, he asked me to keep his response confidential. It was a disappointing response anyway.

Please feel free to invite Dr. Mortenson to comment here, especially if he thinks that Mr. Phelps’s account is inaccurate or unfair.

david.starling.macmillan said:

I actually emailed Mortenson about his side of this story. Sadly, he asked me to keep his response confidential. It was a disappointing response anyway.

That from a guy complaining

Too bad that he is unwilling to defend his views in a formal public debate

Its hard to imagine what you mean. Egyptian mythology is full of flood myths, although, adapted to local circumstances, as you hint.

Carl Drews said:

TomS said:

I am not an expert of any kind, but it hits me as implausible that an event that occurred 4000 years ago would persist in stories.

What do we remember of 2000 BC? We even forgot that there was a Sumerian civilization.

I wondered about that myself, until I read this book by geologist David Montgomery:

The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood [Paperback] David R. Montgomery (2013)

http://www.amazon.com/Rocks-Dont-Li[…]p/0393346242

He uses as an example the Klamath Indians of Oregon and the eruption of Mt. Mazama (Crater Lake). Mt. Mazama erupted 7,700 years ago. Native American folk tales preserve the memory of the event. He lists several reasons why the tale could be passed down and endure for so long. One is that the local environment contains a big hulking reminder (Crater Lake itself). I forget what the other indicators are. No television, maybe?

He also talks about why certain ancient civilizations have flood stories and why others do not. Egypt does not, because the Nile floods “catastrophically” every year and they’ve gotten accustomed to it. This book has been recommended at Panda’s Thumb before. And there is a great picture of Siccar Point on the front cover.

<OT Alert>

Hemant Mehta at Friendly Atheist provides an example of how a book can debut at #1 on the NYT’s bestseller list, supporting our suspicions regarding Stephen Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friend[…]ellers-list/

</OT Alert>

gnome de net said:

<OT Alert>

Hemant Mehta at Friendly Atheist provides an example of how a book can debut at #1 on the NYT’s bestseller list, supporting our suspicions regarding Stephen Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friend[…]ellers-list/

</OT Alert>

I’m not sure whether the DI uses this kind of mechanism, or whether there’s merely a rolodex of right wing think tanks and seminaries which each buy a box full of every book the DI issues, the day it is issued. Either way “bestseller” claims are completely unrelated to the actual popularity of the books as reading material.

Many YECs seem to hate coming onto ‘secular’ discussion forums. They prefer preaching to the already converted on their own blogs/websites/facebook pages. Or high profile formal debates that add to their public profile.

Here are David Montgomery’s own words about Egyptian flood stories in The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood (2012). He is doing a literature review in Chapter 9 Recycled Tales, covering tales from around the world of a great flood.

James Frazer, Folk-lore in the Old Testament 1918:

(Frazer found much local variation that reflected the local geography; deluge stories from the Pacific islands sounded suspiciously like a tsunami.)

Neither could he [Frazer] find clear cases of native flood stories in Egypt or the rest of Africa. The lack of flood stories from along the Nile - where the annual flood is quite predictable - ruled out typical river flooding as a general source of flood myths. (p. 172)

After Frazer’s exhaustive study, only those uncritically seeking to legitimize a global flood gave any credence to the argument that the global distribution of flood stories meant they shared a common origin. (p. 173)

The lack of well-documented flood myths from Egypt and the Nile River may be due to the fact that the Nile gets its water from sources far to the south in equatorial Africa. Fed by a chain of great lakes in the East African Rift, the river’s annual discharge does not vary anywhere near as much as in Mesopotamia. (p. 176)

Dr Andrew Snelling? He has near zero credibility in scientific circles. This post is old, but still highly relevant. Will the Real Dr Snelling Please Stand Up?

Snelling admits that he was a convinced creationist by around the age of nine. Little has changed since.

Dr Alex Ritchie, the author of the article above asked for a clarification from Dr Snelling which he did not get (pers comm).

Old (2002) and OT - but might be of interest to some wrt Dr. Snelling: halos

https://me.yahoo.com/a/Iv5nEZhh1NqP[…]BwHWE-#ceecc said:

Dr Andrew Snelling? He has near zero credibility in scientific circles. This post is old, but still highly relevant. Will the Real Dr Snelling Please Stand Up?

Snelling admits that he was a convinced creationist by around the age of nine. Little has changed since.

Dr Alex Ritchie, the author of the article above asked for a clarification from Dr Snelling which he did not get (pers comm).

To me, that level of compartmentalization is psychotic.

daoudmbo said:

https://me.yahoo.com/a/Iv5nEZhh1NqP[…]BwHWE-#ceecc said:

Dr Andrew Snelling? He has near zero credibility in scientific circles. This post is old, but still highly relevant. Will the Real Dr Snelling Please Stand Up?

Snelling admits that he was a convinced creationist by around the age of nine. Little has changed since.

Dr Alex Ritchie, the author of the article above asked for a clarification from Dr Snelling which he did not get (pers comm).

To me, that level of compartmentalization is psychotic.

It was part of my decreationismizing process.

I went from “evolutionism is stupid!” to “evolutionism sort of makes sense, but it doesn’t work” to “evolution could work but isn’t true” to “evolution is false but really does give good results” to “okay, WHY does evolution give good results if it’s false” to “wait, evolution is true”.

I was disappointed Nye did not put more emphasis on how the Statements of Faith YEC “scientists” are required to sign prevent them from doing any real science and how people like Dr Snelling conduct themselves because of it. Using his training in science, Dr Snelling was able to produce credible (I assume), publishable material using objective, repeatable processes in a worldview he believe to be false. That is a remarkable achievement. Yet he has not been able to make a single significant contribution to geology using a worldview he believes to be true. If Nye wanted to be mean (which he wouldn’t have done), he could have accused Dr Snelling of lying. Dr Snelling has been working since he was nine to come up with something, yet YEC is no farther along now than when he was nine. Or for that matter than they were two thousand years ago.

Dr Snelling would have been the perfect example of why YEC is death to serious science education.

Isn’t creationism the ultimate cash cow?

Rolf said:

Isn’t creationism the ultimate cash cow?

Not just a cash cow, but (given the reaction to criticism by its proponents) a sacred cash cow. One that they genuinely believe is necessary for the salvation of souls… that also happens to generate a lot of revenue.

One might call it the golden calf of modern evangelical fundamentalism.

Isn’t creationism the ultimate cash cow?

Would that make it an udder failure?

Henry J said:

Isn’t creationism the ultimate cash cow?

Would that make it an udder failure?

Not according to a google of “money in creationism”

david.starling.macmillan said:

I actually emailed Mortenson about his side of this story. Sadly, he asked me to keep his response confidential. It was a disappointing response anyway.

At least you got a response. I can say I emailed YEC geologist Kurt Wise a few years ago. Didn’t even get a reply. Wise’s relative honesty (with him effectively admitting the scientific evidence is for the moment against YECism [including a world Flood] ) is largely what prompted me as I had become an ex-YEC by the time I tried to contact him.

As it is, I saw Wise (but didn’t talk to him) at an ICR seminar when I was about ten years old. Wise worked at nearby Bryan College in Dayton TN back then. BTW, Dayton has nice tourism opportunities regarding the Scopes Trial, even for people like me that hated the topic of history as a kid!

DP: OK, show us the rejection letters from the journals that they submitted these papers to.

TM: Well, I can’t show you, but I know people have submitted [papers], and their papers were not accepted.

Good grief, what a ignorant reply by Terry Mortenson.

All scientists get rejected all the time. It’s reported that Steven J Gould had a stack of rejected papers over his decades long career.

Yes, sometimes good papers can be rejected. But in this case, just do some more experiments, redo the paper and try submitting the paper again. And again. Try different journals.

Also, sometimes bad papers get accepted (like the Trevors/Abel paper FL repeatedly brags about). Well, bad papers can either be directly refuted or they can be ignored (like the Trevors/Abel paper which has rarely been referred to; and when cited, almost always referred to by, well, Trevors/Abel themselves). Too many bad papers can badly hurt a journal’s reputation. Perhaps that’s why the journal that published the Trevors/Abel paper (Cell Biology International) is a bottom-tier journal that has an pathetically low impact factor of just 1.747 (compared to Cell which has an impact factor of 31.957).

But anyway, back during the 1982 McLean v. Arkansas trial, the defendants (the side of the “creation scientists”) had lots of time to present papers submitted by creationists that had been rejected by journals. But they failed to submit even one such paper to the court as evidence. Not even one (this was noted by the judge).

Tenncrain said:

But anyway, back during the 1982 McLean v. Arkansas trial, the defendants (the side of the “creation scientists”) had lots of time to present papers submitted by creationists that had been rejected by journals. But they failed to submit even one such paper to the court as evidence. Not even one (this was noted by the judge).

Indeed. This is a direct quote from Judge Overton’s decision:

Some of the State’s witnesses suggested that the scientific community was “close-minded” on the subject of creationism and that explained the lack of acceptance of the creation science arguments. Yet no witness produced a scientific article for which publication has been refused.

You would think that in a public trial, in front of the entire world, the creationists would have put their best evidence forward. Yet they entered into evidence not one rejection letter. Why?

No doubt they will endeavor to acquire those rejection letters now.

prongs said:

No doubt they will endeavor to acquire those rejection letters now.

Hell, I’ll write ‘em one.

Mortenson snubbed again

According to an article in the Greenville (South Carolina) News, some “conservative” students wanted to invite Dr. Mortenson to Furman University and get academic credit for attending his talk. The university refused to offer the credit on the grounds that Dr. Mortenson was not academically qualified to speak on his chosen topic, the origin of life. The students predictably charged discrimination against conservative speakers.

A religion professor, when approached by the conservative students, refused to debate Dr. Mortenson but offered to debate instead bona fide scholars on the question of biblical literalism. The professor, Bryan Bibb, commented

They were not interested in doing that because of the rhetorical points that they think they score with this particular speaker.

And the distressing part is that then my refusal to debate somebody who’s not in my area was construed as an attempt to suppress the idea, which in my case has to do with literal biblical scholarship, which is something I was very eager to see debated on campus.

Dr. Mortenson commented,

If Furman University is teaching kids how to think and how to be scientific and how to understand truth, then this should be a tremendous academic exercise for them to come and listen to me.

If I am an idiot who doesn’t know anything about what I’m talking about they should be able to spot all of my phony arguments and it would be a great educational experience for them.

An interesting take: Why don’t we just let the students design the whole curriculum and allow just anyone to lecture, no matter how qualified, and assume that they can distinguish the “idiots” from the qualified scholars?

Just Bob said:

prongs said:

No doubt they will endeavor to acquire those rejection letters now.

Hell, I’ll write ‘em one.

And that may be the real reason no rejection letters were presented.

Any thoughtful, conscientious reviewer would write such a scathing indictment of creationism masquerading as science, that the rejection letter would have the opposite effect - showing the vacuous emptiness of the explanatory power of creationism.

That may be the real reason no rejection letters were presented.

prongs said:

Just Bob said:

prongs said:

No doubt they will endeavor to acquire those rejection letters now.

Hell, I’ll write ‘em one.

And that may be the real reason no rejection letters were presented.

Any thoughtful, conscientious reviewer would write such a scathing indictment of creationism masquerading as science, that the rejection letter would have the opposite effect - showing the vacuous emptiness of the explanatory power of creationism.

That may be the real reason no rejection letters were presented.

Your explanation assumes that at least one Creationist actually did go through the motions of writing up a paper and submitting it. Given that Xtian “witnessing” commonly involves the ‘witness’ making up shit about how terrible their life was before they found Christ, I’d have to say that “they didn’t do shit—there’s norejection letters for them to show people” is the null hypothesis in this case.

xubist said:

prongs said:

Just Bob said:

prongs said:

No doubt they will endeavor to acquire those rejection letters now.

Hell, I’ll write ‘em one.

And that may be the real reason no rejection letters were presented.

Any thoughtful, conscientious reviewer would write such a scathing indictment of creationism masquerading as science, that the rejection letter would have the opposite effect - showing the vacuous emptiness of the explanatory power of creationism.

That may be the real reason no rejection letters were presented.

Your explanation assumes that at least one Creationist actually did go through the motions of writing up a paper and submitting it. Given that Xtian “witnessing” commonly involves the ‘witness’ making up shit about how terrible their life was before they found Christ, I’d have to say that “they didn’t do shit—there’s norejection letters for them to show people” is the null hypothesis in this case.

Knowing the kind of rejection letter that would be returned, I can understand why they would not submit an overtly creationist paper to a respectable journal.

One of our trolls presented us the example of a “creationist” poster paper at AGU. Upon close examination, it was an entirely mainstream presentation, albeit of a minority viewpoint not accepted by the majority of mainstream geologists. The creationist authors presented it differently in churches afterwards, full of creationist rhetoric.

In short, there was nothing creationist about the AGU presentation. The only creationist connections were found in the religious presentations, under the same title, in religious venues.

Such is the honesty of the creationist.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on February 28, 2014 5:00 PM.

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